Nov 5, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
With the most expensive midterm campaign in U.S. history coming to a close, both sides are braced for the possibility of a split Congress where Democrats gain control of the House while Republicans retain the Senate. Turnout is surging, with both sides saying they stand to benefit, as voters appear more motivated than usual. The changing demographics of the United States may also play a part in the outcome. President Donald Trump will remain on the campaign trail until tonight.
Not backing down
Chinese President Xi Jinping showed no signs of making any concessions to the U.S. in a highly-anticipated speech at the Shanghai trade fair. While Xi strongly denounced what he called “law of the jungle” trade practices in a thinly veiled attack on Trump’s America First policies, he failed to announce any new major policy initiatives. Optimism about a breakthrough on the trade war in the wake of positive comments from Trump is waning with the president’s rhetoric now seen as midterm “posturing.”
U.S. economic measures against Iran, which were lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear accord, came back into full force at midnight as the White House ramps up pressure on the Islamic Republic over what it says is the country’s “malign” behavior in the region. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is scheduled to name this morning the eight countries granted a temporary waiver that will allow them to continue to import Iranian crude. Traders have largely downplayed the impact of sanctions – a prescient bet. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate for December delivery was trading at $62.88 by 5:40 a.m. Eastern Time, adding to last week’s losses.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 1.2 percent while Japan’s Topix index closed 1.1 percent lower as hopes for a resolution to the trade war faded. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.1 percent higher at 5:40 a.m. as investors are probably happy to sit on their hands until after the U.S. election. S&P 500 futures were off a couple of points, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 3.203 percent and gold was little changed.
At 9:45 a.m., Markit publishes its U.S. services and composite purchasing managers indexes for October. At 10:00 a.m., the ISM non-manufacturing index is released. In the euro area, finance ministers meet in Brussels where they are set to discuss Italy’s budget in what’s becoming a significant standoff over the populist government’s spending plans. Ferrari NV and Occidental Petroleum Corp are among companies reporting.